Monday, September 29, 2008

Meissen Weinfest

Saturday evening
On any given weekend there are hundreds of festivals all over Germany. Some are huge, like Octoberfest, some are tiny like the festival we stumbled across in Regansburg and some are in between, like the 50,000 folks that show up for the Meissen Winefest (plus the other 50,000 or so that are at the neighboring towns winefest. All of these thing have a couple of things in common: a hook that involves eating and drinking and bands that play a couple of key songs. The most common song that they play is "Country Road" followed by "Sweet Home Alabama".
There were something like 50,000 people in the town with a dozen bands playing in the different squares. Each plaza also had food vendors as well as different wineries to taste. We bought a tasting glass and for 2€ we were able to taste dozens of wines. It looked like almost all of the towns inhabitants were out and about with the old and young alike out in droves.
Things got dangerous when Dave met a German couple that they had met there two years ago. Thomas owns some land that he grows grapes on, so we had to try his rose ... A couple of times. That's when bottles started getting purchased and consumed. We managed to see several bands and heard the same couple of songs played over and over again. Pretty funny after a while. We stayed until the last train out of town and rode it back to Dresden with some of the hordes. When we left at midnight, the festival was packed and most restaurants were still full.

After a slow start, Dave and I rode bikes from Dresden to Swiss-Saxony - a 40 kilometer ride. The route follows the Elba river along the same train line that goes to Prague. About half of Dresden was out for the gorgeously sunny day along the river. We passed by several castles while all manner of boats plied there way up and down the river. There were even some hardy souls that were actually sailing on the river. We ended up meeting Kathy and Lisa up in one of the small towns on the Elba. We had planned to take one of the river cruises back to town, but of course there was a festival going and all of the return boats were full. No problem, we decided to climb the 600 or so feet up to the surrounding country side to visit an old medieval castle that was built around the granite spires. A bit of a hike more and we found this luxury hotel on the cliffs, the sun was going down and the views were just incredible, so we stopped for a snack while the sun set. They had a player piano going and of course they played "Country Road". The hike down was tricky since it was crazy dark. The entire time we have been here, I have carried a headlamp with me because we are always getting locked in someplace dark. Of course tonight, since we road the bikes, I didn't have the headlamp. Dave did have a lamp for the bike and we managed to make it down without a mishap. As we were walking towards the river to pick up our bike, you could just hear one of the bands break into a nice rendition of "Country Road" To get across the river we ended up taking this ferry that had no motor. Instead it had a cable tied several hundred miles upstream of the ferry. The ferry would then just use the current to surf back and forth across the river. Amazingly simple and efficient. On the other side of the river, we took the train back into Dresden for dinner. Afterward Dave and I road our bike back home while Kathy and Lisa took the tram. Riding the bikes through the old town at night with all of the lit up castles and churches was pretty spectacular.

Today is a bit of a chill day. We are doing some Laundry and trying to dodge some weather. After some contemplation, we decide to take the night train to Budapest. There is one transfer in Prague and then we have a sleeper car. So that's where I am now, on the train (again) to Praha.

1 comment:

Rochelle said...

I crossed a river on a cable ferry like that once in Costa Rica. There was a story about how one time the cable broke and the thing floated all the way down the river to the ocean... To get on the ferry with your vehicle you had to drive in the water a few feet.